HARTFORD >> The state’s House of Representatives unanimously voted Thursday to approve legislation introduced by Gov. Dannel Malloy addressing the state’s opioid crisis.
A release from Malloy’s office on Thursday said the governor applauded the bipartisan vote to move forward legislation with several provisions aimed to help combat the state’s opioid crisis. The release came on the same day the state’s congressional delegation in Washington issued a release encouraging healthcare providers in the state to apply for assistance with programs targeting opioid use treatment to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant programs.
Malloy has signed numerous bills since taking office in 2011 that address both legal and illicit opioid use in the state. The opioid crisis is a disease that’s impacted nearly every community and people of various backgrounds in the state, Malloy said in the release.
“It is a complex crisis that does not have one root cause, nor does it have simple solution, but we need to do everything in our power to treat and prevent it,” Malloy said in the release. “Our work on this front will not be finished until our communities and our families are no longer struggling with the grave costs of this illness.”
The bill will now move forward to the Senate for further consideration.
“I would like to thank the bipartisan leadership of the legislature’s Public Health and General Law committees for working with our administration to craft this legislation and make it even better,” Malloy said. “We must move forward in a concerted effort to tackle this issue, and I urge the Senate to quickly adopt this legislation so I can sign it into law.”
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said in the release the bill will prevent new victims of the crisis.
“I applaud the House on passage and urge the Senate to send this legislation to the Governor’s desk,” Wyman said.
The bill is called “An Act Preventing Prescription Opioid Diversion and Abuse,” and would increase data sharing between state agencies on opioid use and fatal overdoses, according to the release. It would facilitate the destruction of unused medication by registered nurses in home health care agencies, increase security over controlled substances by requiring electronic prescriptions, allow patients to opt-out of being prescribed opioids and reduce the maximum amount of opioid prescriptions for minors from seven to five days.
The bill would also require individual and group health insurers to cover medically necessary detox treatments and require the state’s Department of Public Health to add information on how prescribers can obtain certification for medication used to treat opioid use disorders.
The release from the Washington delegation on Thursday encouraged local providers to apply for federal assistance for addiction treatment and prevention. The release said there’s nearly $43 million in federal assistance monies available for such programs.
“We see the painful reality of opioid addiction every day in towns across our state, and we know that Connecticut families are counting on these federal dollars to fight it,” the Connecticut delegation said in a joint statement. “These new dollars can help Connecticut’s first responders and health care providers save more lives. We hope communities across Connecticut will apply for this opportunity.”
The money is administered through DPH’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The state and cities in the state are eligible to apply for a first-responders grant program that has up to $41.7 million available to about 30 grantees, according to the release. This money would help train and provide resources for first responders in emergency treatment of suspected opioid overdoses.
Federally qualified health centers in the state can also apply to a grant worth $1 million to expand one grantee’s availability to overdose reversal medication and help establish protocol for patients experiencing overdoses.
Last year, fatal drug overdoses killed more than 900 people in the state, leading to struggles in the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. This figure included deaths attributed to overdoses involving opioids like heroin, fentanyl and prescription medication like oxycodone.